How to Meditate: The Basics of Mindfulness
What does meditation have to do with your health? How can it help you in the long run? How will it make you feel better and more relaxed? How do I get started and know where to start from?
These are all questions that we hear often, but there is so much information out there on how to meditate. In this blog post, I will answer these questions and many more! Meditation has been proven many times as one of the best ways to improve mental health, lower stress levels, increase happiness levels, and even heal physical ailments like pain. I hope that after reading this post you’ll find yourself asking „why not?“ before „why“ when considering starting this practice.
Most people experience meditation as something strange that requires a lot of time sitting in silence. It is challenging when the mind resists not thinking and what to think about during meditation. Meditation can feel a little too strange to the beginner. For centuries, people have been practicing meditation. But anyone thinking of trying it will probably feel the same hesitation as first-time meditators.
Maybe you want to start meditating because you want to be less reactive, feel less stressed, or have more peace of mind. Maybe you want to spend less time in your head and be present in the moment.
Or maybe you’re intrigued by those benefits but can’t imagine how meditation could help you achieve them. How do I even start meditating? How will it feel? What should I expect?
All of our existence is experienced through our minds, and our perspective on life can change dramatically when we begin to meditate. However, being inspired to start meditating is very different from actually doing it, and you will only feel the benefits of meditation if you start and maintain a regular practice.
Meditation is easy to learn and involves some fairly straightforward techniques.
To calm your mind, you must first come to terms with its untamed nature.
When closing your eyes, you might see very active and busy thoughts, as well as being easily distracted or restless. Just because you’ve decided to meditate doesn’t mean you will experience that peace immediately, as it takes time and practice to tame a wild horse.
Meditation is actually a pretty straightforward process — simply sit in silence and practice. All you need to do is close your eyes, stay focused on your breathing, and allow your mind to wander. This is one skill that doesn’t require a lot of effort to master! — A place of stillness where no effort is required.
There are many ways to meditate, but none of them is „good“ or „bad“; that label depends on the individual. The only thing that exists is the present. It either registers as sensation or non-sensation, and we are aware of it because our mind turns towards it. The awareness of these sensations is always here in this moment. We just need to frequently check ourselves and notice when these sensations happen – or not happen…
When you notice your mind is elsewhere, you have found awareness. Return to the breath as an object of focus. Attention quickly runs when you try to tame it. So, rather than chasing it like a lost dog, just accept that it has a mind of its own and is probably going to go out for a while. That’s not the end of the world, though. Whenever your attention comes back home after being away, give yourself a mental pat on the shoulder.
Before beginning, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with how the mind works and what to expect of your thoughts when you sit down to meditate.
Meditation is not a magic key for everlasting happiness, and it won’t solve everything. Life, with all its challenges and uncertainty, will still happen no matter what. Meditation can allow you to change how you choose, react, and view the circumstances happening around you. Meditation offers a small pocket of stillness amid all the outer chaos. With a consistent practice – and with open-mindedness and willingness to investigate – the change it brings about is gradual, subtle, and intangible yet profound. Meditating is a process of bringing your heightened awareness and understanding to the forefront, which can ultimately change how you feel about both yourself and others.
Where should I go to meditate?
Meditation is most often practiced in a quiet space, free of distractions. Many places can be conducive to the practice: your living room, bedroom, balcony, or porch with soothing music playing in the background; an indoor garden; a nearby park bench overlooking trees and flowers. Choose somewhere you feel comfortable and safe.
The first step is to commit to weekly practice. Make a commitment to 10-15 minutes per day, or even just a few times per week. Find an environment that is free from distraction where you can freely devote your time and attention to the task at hand. To create a new habit, following a routine — same time and place — is essential. To make meditation a habit, many people work on it alongside other routines they already have. Like brushing your teeth and then meditating before or after it. A popular time to meditate is first thing in the morning, though you should find a time that suits your schedule.
What should I wear for my meditation routine?
You should generally wear whatever you fancy. Sitting comfortably and relaxed is the most important thing. If you want to prevent discomfort and distraction during meditation, tighten any collars, belts, or ties under your clothing before beginning. If you feel more comfortable, wearing nothing at all is always an option (although it’s recommended to put on clothing if you venture outside of the home).
A good posture facilitates mindful meditation
You can meditate anywhere – inside or outside, seated on the ground, a cushion, bench, chair. By now you’ve likely forgotten the stereotypical image of meditation that depicts a person sitting cross-legged by a tree. Beginners often find it’s easiest to use an upright chair while they are getting used to the practice. To get into a correct sitting posture, sit up-right at the front of your chair. Your back should be straight, your neck relaxed, and your chin slightly tucked in. Keep your hands loose on your lap or knees.
How long should I meditate as a beginner?
In the beginning, it’s best to start with just a few minutes. You can get used to this practice and build up your meditation time gradually. The main takeaway is that, for beginners, the important thing to remember is that frequency trumps duration. Starting out with a 10-minute session may be challenging if you’re new to meditation, but it will help see benefits in the long run even more than those who meditate for hours at a time but only do so once a month.
You can always make the jump to 15 or 20 minutes once you’ve become more comfortable meditating. Even meditating for 10 minutes can seem daunting when you’ve only begun experimenting with meditation – you can always lower the burden and start with five or three-minute meditation practices.
Why should I meditate in the first place?
It’s important to choose a clear motivation. There are many reasons to meditate, but they’re all subjective and personal. If you are not very clear about why it’s worth your time then chances are that you will be less likely to make it a routine. One of the most important things you can do to set yourself up for success is to clarify ahead of time what your expectations are.
Is there anything I can do in a day besides meditation?
One of the benefits of meditation is that it helps us live more mindfully. It’s not just about thinking less; it’s also about feeling what we actually think and feel. When you finish meditating, take a few moments to reflect on the quality of mind at that moment. Then make the intention to carry it into your day so that you can continue building positive habits. Form an idea of what you will do next, whether that is brushing your teeth, taking a shower, or making breakfast. It’s important to maintain this relaxed awareness when transitioning back to regular activities.
You’ve heard about „guided meditation“ and want to try it out? I’ve condensed my experience with the most popular meditation apps in 2021 in another article!
You know the basics now – why don’t you sit down right now and try your first session of meditation? Enjoy it ☺